With the outbreak of the COVID-19 pandemic, digital learning took on a whole new meaning, like most schools, colleges, and educational institutions began to hold lessons via video conferencing. Stanford University, on the other hand, recently pushed it a step further by holding a course-class session entirely in virtual reality (VR), a first in the university’s history.
Since 2003, James Bailenson, a professor of communications at Stanford University, has been teaching the university’s Virtual People course. However, he recently took a risk by deciding to run the course entirely in virtual reality, despite not knowing whether the necessary technology would be available. Thankfully, during the summer session of the Virtual People Course, the software, named Engage, which was utilized to conduct the first-ever VR class was ready for Bailenson to use.
“In Virtual People, the students don’t just get to try VR a handful of times. VR becomes the medium they rely on. To the best of my knowledge, nobody has networked hundreds of students via VR headsets for months at a time in the history of virtual reality, or even in the history of teaching. It’s VR at an incredible scale,” said Bailenson in an official press release.
In addition, Bailenson created the classes in such a way that students would not have simulator sickness. As a result, each lesson was limited to 30 minutes. In addition, Bailenson requested that Meta-owned Facebook enable students to log in with phony accounts for the VR lessons in order to preserve their privacy. In exchange, the lecturer agreed to conduct the classes using Oculus VR headsets (another Meta-owned company).
If you’re interested in learning more about Standford’s Virtual People course and how Bailenson and his teaching staff were able to turn their classrooms into engaging virtual places, click here to read the official press release. Also, let us know what you think about virtual reality (VR) classes in the comments section below.